Town Creek Indian Mound near Mount Gilead will host a series of comet-watching parties starting this evening.
The recently-discovered comet is called “Pan-STARRS”, named after the telescope that led to its discovery, and Town Creek’s Karen Bowles says astronomers are a little uncertain about how Comet Pan-STARRS will act.
“It’s a new comet,” said Bowles. “It’s a comet that’s never entered our solar system before. That’s why we don’t really know what it’s going to do.”
What experts do know is that Comet Pan-STARRS is nearing its maximum expected brightness as it approaches its closest point to the sun, known as the “perihelion”.
Bowles said, “When that happens, it’s going to heat up, it’s going to expand and brighten, and all the gases from the comet will hopefully form a really nice tail and be really bright.”
Weather permitting, the comet-watching events will go on from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. each evening, Sun., Mar. 10 through Sat. Mar. 16, at the Town Creek State Historic Site near Mount Gilead.
“We’re going to watch a movie about comet hunting and asteroid spotting,” Bowles added. “We’ll look at the sun through a solar filter, and, once the sun sets, we’ll have a good 30 minutes to take a peek at the comet before it sets.”
Advance registration is requested, and more details are available at 910-439-6802, or online at towncreekindianmound.com.